LB Teddy Lehman

2002 Statistics

Coach: Bob Stoops
43-9, 4 years
2002 Record: 12-2
at Tulsa WON 37-0
at Missouri WON 31-24
vs. Texas WON 35-24
at Texas A&M LOST 26-30
at Baylor WON 49-9
at Oklahoma State LOST 28-38
vs. Colorado WON 29-7
Washington State WON 34-14

2002 Final Rankings
AP-5, Coaches-5, BCS-7

2003 Outlook

So Oklahoma's offense is gutted and its best defensive back is off to the NFL? Well, so what. Bob Stoops has the Norman football factory assembly-lining blue-chippers into the program, onto the field, and (eventually) into the NFL. So don't go dismissing the 2003 Sooners. Or their squad the year after that, or however long Stoops can keep this run going, which seems like forever… he has a knack for creating top-notch, competitive teams with however much talent he has rallied.

For the third consecutive season, Oklahoma finished in the nation's top six and was a legitimate national-title threat. Unless the Sooner wagon wheels fall off, make that four, and counting.

The major hurdle for Oklahoma will again be the schedule. The Big 12 should be even better this season, and Oklahoma plays in the South Division, where four bowl teams went 4-0 in 2002. The two bottom-feeders, Texas A&M and Baylor, should both be better, too. That makes for a grueling conference schedule, where a decent team such as Oklahoma State or Missouri is always capable of catching the Sooners on a down week. And don't forget a non-conference slate of North Texas, Alabama, Fresno State (look out) and UCLA. Because of such a highly competitive slate, it's entirely conceivable Oklahoma loses a game, maybe even two, yet remains in the hunt for a Sugar Bowl berth.

Last but not least, don't underestimate Stoops' impact on this team. He's one of the best game-planners in the country, as evidenced by his teams' performance in big games. When Oklahoma has had two weeks to prepare for a team during the Stoops era, the Sooners are 13-1. He knows his Xs and Os, which is why a few NFL teams call every winter asking for him. Now, he has heavy weaponry flowing in every year from the recruiting trail and has assembled a roster that has more raw talent than even in 2000, when the Sooners thumped Florida State for the national championship. Trick is maximizing that talent, and he's already proven he can get a team to warm weather in early January. He should do it again with a defense that should be the nation's most feared unit by season's end.

Projected 2003 record: 10-2
OT Jammal Brown
CB Antonio Perkins
SS Donte Nicholson
QB - 3 DL - 4.5
RB - 4 LB - 5
WR - 4 DB - 5
OL - 4.5 ..

Passing: Jason White, 34-20-2, 181 yds., 1 TD

Rushing: Kejuan Jones, 165 att., 613 yds., 14 TD's

Receiving: Will Peoples, 39 rec., 571 yds., 1 TD

Scoring: Trey DiCarlo, 16-22 FG, 58-62 PAT, 106 pts.

Punting: Blake Ferguson, 74 punts, 38.5 avg.

Kicking: Trey DiCarlo, 16-22 FG, 58-62 PAT, 106 pts.

Tackles: Lance Mitchell, 124 tot., 87 solo

Sacks: Jonathan Jackson, 6 sacks

Interceptions: Derrick Strait, 6 for 175 yds.

Kickoff returns: Antonio Perkins, 12 ret., 17.2 avg.

Punt returns: Antonio Perkins, 43 ret., 15.0 avg.


FS Brandon Everage
OFFENSE: Nate Hybl-QB, Quentin Griffin-RB, Curtis Fagan-WR, Antwone Savage-WR, Trent Smith-TE, Brad Davis-OG, Mike Skinner-OG
DEFENSE: Andre Woolfolk-CB, Jimmy Wilkerson-DE (NFL)

written by Ryan Hockensmith

The Sooners will need every score they can get. Quarterback Nate Hybl, workhorse tailback Quentin Griffin and senior receivers Curtis Fagan and Antwone Savage are all gone, so points are at a premium.

Stoops is confident in runners Kejuan Jones and Renaldo Works. Neither are Griffin, but won't have to be, either. Jones carried almost 12 times-a-game and runs harder than you'd expect from a 5'9", 187-pounder. He was Oklahoma's short-yardage bowling ball and should see at least half the load. Works, who bench presses a linebacker-esque 420 pounds, is no tackle-dummy himself and will push Jones for touches. The way Oklahoma spreads out the defense, there will be slivers in the defensive front. Both/either should be effective, if not game-breaking, runners. And with their defense, that's all the Sooners need to stay on top. SPRING UPDATE: There appears to be a (legitimate) three-way battle for running back, featuring Kejuan Jones, Donte Hickson and Reynaldo Works. Look for Works primarily as a blocker/receiver. Jones and Hickson will get the bulk of the carries while attempting to get the ground game going, but Works will be utilized as more of a receiving back.

Same with the quarterback position. Hybl wasn't Dan Marino, or even Josh Heupel, but he won 20 of his 23 starts as a Sooner. Norman-eers hope to get similar mileage out of a bunched-up group of sophomores and hard-luck senior Jason White. If he's healthy, this job is White's to lose, which is what's happened twice in the past two seasons. White destroyed his left ACL in 2001, then ripped up the ACL and MCL in his right leg last season. Unbelievably, both were non-contact injuries and came after beating out Hybl twice for the starting job.

White has a decent-sized frame and the all-important passing skills to hands-down win the job … except for the injuries, which preclude his 2003 mobility and confidence.. Last spring, he bounced back to practice throughout March and April, but was held out of scrimmages. He's likely to miss most of spring practices this season, and will avoid his first hits until summer. Even that's a stretch for somebody to be ready with a pair of damaged legs.

Sophomores Paul Thompson, Brent Rawls and Noah Allen are all skilled pocket presences. They just don't have much experience. Thompson has the most. An important factor for Oklahoma will be spring and summer snaps. With four players dicing up repetitions with the offense, it'll be very difficult for the eventual quarterback derby winner to make normal pre-season progress. Don't be surprised if the August 30 starter against North Texas looks rusty, a little unprepared and extremely cautious because of limited practice time with the first team.

Whoever's under center may have trouble finding somebody known at which to throw. With the two senior wideouts, top-shelf tight end Trent Smith and Griffin all gone, Oklahoma loses 146 receptions from the 68th-ranked passing offense in the country. Expect to see lots of short tosses to wideouts Will Peoples and Mark Clayton, sandwiched around a slew of dump-offs to running backs. Smith replacement candidates Lance Donley, James "Bubba" Moses, and Chris Chester all have game experience, but the Sooners staff still is contemplating shifting fullback J.D. Runnels to tight end. All will see time but don't expect numbers anywhere in the Trent Smith area code.


WR Will Peoples


Returning Starters in bold
QB Jason White-Sr (6-2, 224) Paul Thompson-So (6-4, 196) / Brent Rawls-So
RB Kejuan Jones-So (5-9, 187) Renaldo Works-Sr (6-1, 209)
WR Brandon Jones-Jr (6-3, 208) Travis Wilson-So (6-3, 210)
WR Mark Clayton-Jr (5-11, 180) Jejaun Rankins-So (5-11, 160)
WR Will Peoples-Jr (6-1, 195) Brandon Jones-Jr (6-3, 203)
TE Lance Donley-Sr (6-4, 218) James "Bubba" Moses-Jr (6-3, 234)
OT Wes Sims-Jr (6-5, 317) Steve Taylor-Fr (6-7, 318)
OG Kelvin Chaisson-So (6-5, 290) Abner Estrada-Jr (6-3, 275)
C Vince Carter-Jr (6-3, 277) Chris Bush-Jr (6-4, 274)
OG Davin Joseph-So (6-4, 270) Bryan Zimpel-Fr (6-5, 310)
OT Jammal Brown-Jr (6-6, 310) Brett Rayl-So (6-7, 302)
K Trey DiCarlo-So (6-0, 180) Steven Sarubbi-Sr (6-3, 190)



written by Ryan Hockensmith

Bank on the defense being Top-10 caliber again, even with cornerback Andre Woolfolk heading to the NFL. Everything starts up front, where dinged-up junior Tommie Harris, if healthy, can be scary good. He's a 6'3", 280-pound pest in the middle, a package of brute strength (440-pound bench press) and disgusting speed for a down lineman (4.67 40-yard dash). Harris is the kind of player around which entire defenses can be built and entire offense's game-plans are drawn. Both are true with Harris, a potential Top 10 pick down the road. Cohort Kory Klein, he too a 440-pound bench presser with serious push, is not someone to be left alone. He will demand double-teams if not checked early as Harris distracts opponents. SPRING UPDATE: Larry Birdine and Calvin Thibodeaux are two players to keep an eye on at the defensive end position. Dan Cody and Jonathan Jackson are the unquestioned starters, but Birdine and Thibodeaux will be relied upon to provide depth. Birdine has had an impressive spring and might even find himself in the starting lineup.

With Harris and Klein disrupting things up the middle, expect more of the same constant pressure, and it'll come from all over. Oklahoma racked up 126 tackles for loss (TFLs) and 36 sacks, accounting for 658 lost yards. That's about five drive-killing defensive plays per game, and that number should increase. The Sooners will bring pressure from everywhere, which is how linebackers Lance Mitchell and Teddy Lehman led the team with 19 and 17 TFLs, respectively. With Harris and Klein demanding multiple blockers, seniors Mitchell and Lehman ought to be licking their chops again with all the potential space to maneuver.

Other chop-lickers include the senior LB corps that will assure opponents of little-if-no-success in 2003. The seasoned group led the nation's 10th ranked overall defense to levels of consistency not seen since their championship year. Any of these member's reactions to play-fakes and misdirection-plays rarely cause over-pursuit. Only smash-mouth football and a better opponent beat this defense, never themselves. And it all comes back to these three as the grease that makes this machine work as well as it does.

The secondary has the ability to shut down passing games when most needed. The nation's 9th ranked pass efficiency defense has unteachable instincts opposing coaches cannot counter. Redshirt sophomore Eric Bassey, a 4.32 40-yard blazer with killer instincts, struggled living up to the immense shoes of 2001 first-round draft pick Roy Williams. But he just turned 20 in January, has three more seasons to improve and still looks like a terrific prospect. Bassey's versatility will allow Stoops and company to rotate him between his normal strong safety spot and cornerback, depending on down and situation.

That frees up veteran corners Derrick Strait and Antonio Perkins (Woolfolk's replacement) to be opportunistic in the secondary, like they were last year (a combined 10 interceptions). Safety Brandon Everage's sharp-break-ability is back, too. Although his future has been made less clear due to some off-the-field issues as well as with a shoulder problem. Coaches claim he will not participate this spring. Should he not make it back in time for September, look for any number of players to fill the void. Regardless, any opposing QBs not able to look the secondary off (and also pump-fake) will have these keen DBs breaking on their passes for ultimate success. That means at least four more defensive touchdowns in 2003. SPRING UPDATE: Five-star cornerback JUCO recruit Chijioke Onyenegecha is now a Sooner. The only question left remaining is whether he will be eligible to suit up this fall. Some have projected him as a possible starter with his amazing talent. As it stands right now, Onyenegecha would have to sit out a season as a Division I transfer, but has filed the paperwork for an appeal and is holding out hope that he can be on the field to start August practice as an eligible participant. He originally signed with Arizona State this February, but changed his mind after the Sun Devil assistant that recruited him moved on.


DT Tommie Harris


Returning Starters in bold
DE Dan Cody-Jr (6-5, 270) Calvin Thibodeaux-So (6-1, 240)
DT Tommie Harris-Jr (6-3, 278) Lynn McGruder-Jr (6-3, 290)
DT Kory Klein-Sr (6-2, 285) Dusty Dvoracek-Jr (6-3, 275)
DE Jonathan Jackson-Jr (6-3, 235) Larry Birdine-Fr (6-5, 240)
SLB Pasha Jackson-Sr (6-3, 240) Russell Dennison-So (6-3, 240)
MLB Lance Mitchell-Sr (6-3, 245) Wayne Chambers-So (6-3, 235)
WLB Teddy Lehman-Sr (6-2, 230) Rufus Alexander-Fr (6-1, 210)
CB Antonio Perkins-Jr (6-0, 182) Brandon Shelby-Jr (5-11, 185)
CB Derrick Strait-Sr (5-11, 191) Jowahn Poteat-So (6-1, 190)
SS Eric Bassey-So (6-1, 188) Donte Nicholson-Jr (6-2, 210)
FS Brandon Everage-Sr (6-0, 185) Brodney Pool-So (6-3, 190)
P Blake Ferguson-Jr (6-0, 190) Cody Freeby-Fr (6-3, 210)




Special teams will be as important for Oklahoma's fate as much as for any national title contender. If junior punter Blake Ferguson can improve even slightly on his 38.5 yards per punt average, the Sooners defense will take care of handing the offense quality field position. Ferguson pinned opponents inside the 20 seventeen times on his 74 punts (against only nine touchbacks), so he's capable of making an important punt stick deep in opposition territory.

With offenses backed up and forced to punt (as they were a whopping 95 times in 2002), returners Perkins and Clayton ought to have ample opportunities at a short field. Perkins was fantastic last season, averaging 15 yards per return to help Oklahoma to the ninth-best punt return unit in the country. He scored three times but more importantly put the offense 15 yards closer to the end zone 43 times.

If Perkins gets the offense close, improving sophomore Trey DiCarlo has the leg and accuracy to knock one through the uprights from 40-plus yards or chip in a 28-yarder. That puts the offense in a less pressurized predicament, where all the new starters won't have to drive 90 yards and score touchdowns four times a game. It is why we think so highly and rank them accordingly. These kinds of team factors change actual game outcomes as developing areas can grow at their needed pace(s).


The best Heisman candidate on this team plays defense, special teams and possibly some offense as well. Antonio Perkins is a great cover man, an even better punt returner, and will likely see some plays at receiver to juice things up for the Sooner offense… If QB Jason White does not get the job done early in the season, Stoops won't hesitate to favor Brent Rawls. Rawls had an exceptional spring, showing good command of the offense, crisp throws, and the ability to get the ball downfield… RB Jerad Estus flirted with a transfer, but had a late change of heart and has decided to stay with the team - for now… Stoops has been praising the efforts and talents of WR Brandon Jones. A deep threat with superior hands, Jones will be the Advil that eases the (potential) headaches at the QB position.

As good as the Sooners are on defense, what makes them better than most teams is their depth. Seriously, the cliché holds true for the Sooner reserves, in that many of them could be starting on most other defensive squads… Teddy Lehman sat out a majority of the spring with an injured ankle. He should be fine come August… LB Wayne Chambers has looked very good this spring and has been winning over the accolades of the OU coaching staff. He is someone we will be hearing a lot about next year…Cornerback Mark Bradley had a few impressive showings, including a two-INT performance in a late spring scrimmage. Stoops says he is a special player with great ball instincts, who will only make the remarkable OU secondary that much better…

With Jonathan Hayes gone to the NFL, Stoops has dispersed the Special Teams duties among the coaching staff, himself included… The kick return billets will belong to Jejuan Rankins. Rankins was a famed KR in high school and will look to transcend that success to the college field this season.

Note: Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said Jason White will be the #1 QB heading into fall, with soph Paul Thompson #2, rsf Noah Allen #3, and soph Brent Rawls #4.